Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Safety at Waterfalls - MUST READ

Due to recent tragedies at waterfalls, we would like to share some safety precautions and to dos during your waterfall excursions.

Here it goes:-

Bring along ropes, at least 15-20 meters long and immediately find a strategic anchor point to tie the ropes before anyone in the group gets in to swim. This can be thrown to drowning victims and also could be tie to rescuer if a rescue mission is necessarily for submerging victims.

Bring along float. Some may find it childish, some may find it troublesome and some may even think they’re too good and they don’t need one. No matter how good swimmer or how healthy you are, anyone are prone to a sudden cramp or any sudden complication can come without warning. And floats will also help you stay afloat in case of flash flood.

Do not attempt to swim in any pool deeper than 4 feet. But if you really can’t resist the beauty of the crystal clear water, remember to take your float along. If the pool is huge, try to swim around the edge only and not to the center of the pool.

If you spotted a drowning victim, DO NOT attempt to save the victim without any preparation as we instinctively would. Remember to consider these steps in order :-

1) Shout. Shout as loud as you can to get everyone's attention. There may be someone in the group with experience of saving a drowning victim that can be a great help. If not, they can also help to get ready to carry victim to dry ground.

2) Reach. If someone falls into the pool but is relatively close to side, brace yourself firmly and you can offer the victim a trekking pole, tree branch or an arm. In your haste, be careful not to hit the victim over the head with the object that you're reaching to the victim. Simple extend it to within the victim's reach while reassuring him/her. Verify that he/she's firmly grasped the pole, then pull him/her in.

3) Throw. If you have a rope, throw one end to the person in the water. On the other end it should be tied to a tree or held firm by several people ready to pull the victim in once he/she grabbed firmly to the rope.

4) Go. This is by far the most hazardous step. Swimming out to rescue a water-immersion victim is risky and should be the last resort. This requires training and competent swimming skills. Drowning victims are often thrashing wildly and pose hazards to their rescuers. They may attempt to climb the rescuer, trying to get themselves as high out of the water as possible. This simply pushes the rescuer under the water and puts him or her at risk for drowning! When swimming out to rescue someone, bring a towel or shirt with you. Instruct the victim to grab the object, and tow him or her to shore. This allows you to remain a safe distance from the victim. As you get very close, switch to a heads-up breast stroke. Talk to the victim to reassure him. Tell him to simply grab the towel and you'll tow him in. Toss one end of the towel toward him, make sure he's taken hold, then swim toward shore. If the victim should start to work his way up the towel to your arm, use a kick to keep him away. If necessary, swim off and try again. It's all too easy for you to be pulled under by a struggling, drowning man.

1) Water stains on rock walls and debris lines indicate likely flood sites.

2) Always watch the sky especially at the far end where the river is flowing from. If you see a dark cloud or perhaps hearing thunder, probably heavy rain has already poured at the upper end of the river.

3) A large crashing sound from the upper end of the river.

4) The river start to produce foam/bubbles and rises quickly. If water suddenly gets deeper, faster, muddier, or begins carrying twigs or leaves, get to higher ground ASAP. Likewise, head up immediately if you hear the roar of an approaching flood.

1) Steer away from whirlpools and strainers, such as fallen branches, which can cause you to be trapped underwater.

2) Float on your back so that you can see where you are going and push obstacles aside with your arms.

3) Stay calm, trashing wildly will waste your energy.

4) Do not try to stand as your feet may be trapped between rocks or dead hidden branches underwater.

5) Look out for calm pools or shallow area to escape.

That's all we have to share. Please take all precautionary steps as although mother nature is beautiful, she is merciless. Feel free to share your additional thoughts if we miss out any.

Dominic Koo
Certified Life Guard
Life Saving Society Malaysia
International Life Saving